(Mirror Daily, United States) – Young football players shouldn’t be allowed to tackle anymore, at least not under the current safety practices, says a leading pediatrics group. According to their new recommendations, tackling should only be performed under proper techniques.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released their new safety guidelines on Monday, explaining that the incidence of concussions and severe injuries would definitely decrease if tackling would be completely removed from football, but it would also change the very foundation of the sport itself.
There’s no doubt about how real the risk of concussions and other brain-related injuries is, especially among vulnerable teenage football players. Some pediatrics experts have already requested some changes regarding the practice of tackling: it should either be used less, postponed until a certain age, or – the most drastic measure – even banned for high school students.
The AAP published their new guidelines in the journal Pediatrics, suggesting a new approach, where football players should compare the potential health risks often caused by tackling and the athletic benefits that come with proper tackling.
At the same time, authors raised the concern over the proposed delay of age at which young players start competing in tackle football. They explained that while this change would surely decrease the risk of serious injuries, it would also raise the risk of even worse injuries when the practice is finally introduced.
Instead, the AAP suggested that coaches teach players a proper tackling technique – not initiating contact head-first, but engaging with the shoulder while keeping the head up and protected. But these new recommendations have surprised some medical experts.
Robert Stern, a professor of neurology at the Boston University School of Medicine, said he was disappointed the AAP didn’t suggest the best course of action for the health and wellbeing of the children. If removing tackling would decrease the risk of injuries – even though it would change the game’s rules – why not go with the safest practice?
On the other hand, research shows the long-term effects of blows to the head that occur during tackling are not definitive. Stern added, “I completely agree that the benefits associated with playing football are tremendous. I love football.”
The AAP has based its review on available evidence on injuries in football, and it turns out that tackling – and football in general – usually causes injuries in the knee, ankle, hand and back. Even though head and neck injuries make up only a small proportion of injuries, they are often the most severe.
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